The Big “Breeder” Debate



No matter where I venture online, it seems the topic of breeding, the practices of breeders, what is considered good breeding and what is classed as a puppy mill or back yard breeder, is a never ending discussion…in some places, a never ending WAR. While I agree that education and information is key to improving anything in life we want to see change for the better, I must admit that this discussion in particular has long since gotten old for me. Probably because the die hard folks on either side of the argument will never see anything other than that they are in the right.

Perhaps it’s the Libra in me that allows me (to my detriment at times lol), to see both sides of an argument. It’s what helps me to mediate arguments among friends and family, it’s what has helped me run forums without the ever present drama that is so prevalent in so many places online. I have the ability to look at things from both the emotional and rational point of view. I can and do, separate the two, so that on the one side I have facts and realities, versus what my heart and emotion would LIKE to believe, or would like to see happen.  Yet seeing both sides, often leaves people thinking you are sitting on the fence, that you have no concrete opinion on an issue. Not so…and this post is my ATTEMPT to explain my own personal views and arguments I have within myself, on the whole breeding issue.

Being as passionate about Great Danes as I am (or dogs in general really), it stands to reason that I too have my feelings on the breeding issue. To me, if you truly love and respect a breed, you will go out of your way to make sure you are breeding the absolute best specimen you can find. It makes perfect sense to me to do genetic health testing, although I also know it is not a guarantee of any future health of an individual dog…I know that it does indeed increase your chances of having a better shot at a healthy, longer lived Dane. Having a breeder who backs their pups to the end of their life, is obviously a great positive. It SHOULD be the law…but alas, as of yet it is not.  All of the things we say we want and look for in a reputable breeder, make sense and are great things to strive for.

Of course when someone is talking about wanting to get a puppy, your first words are advising them to research extensively the breed itself, then look for a Reputable breeder who: Shows, Health Tests, Is involved with their breed club and in good standing, has titles in obedience, tests the temperament of all breeding stock,etc. You list off all of the signs of a less than reputable breeder or puppy mill, advising them to not buy that puppy in the paper, and why.

But here’s the reality…like it or not.

In a country the size of Canada, there are only a small handful of breeders who would fit into that picture of perfection. These breeders do not breed often, do not have multiple litters every year, they have long waiting lists, they are VERY picky on who they choose to sell a pup to, they are not always right next door, or even in the next province. Many will not ship a pup….many have extensive screening policies that even the Pope would probably fail at. And all those things are GREAT.


The reality is that there are not enough “top breeders” having pups, to meet the demand of those who want one. There are many people, who, by the way would and DO make excellent pet owners, for one reason or another, do not agree with how they must go about getting a pup from these breeders.  I have read the contract/questionnaire forms from some of these breeders to people I know, and they laugh out loud at some of the questions being asked. They simply refuse to dish out $2000 for a dog that: A. They won’t be able to pick out for themselves. B. They have to explain their entire life story, give WORK references, financial statements, explain the relationship of every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes into their home…etc, in order to qualify. C. Have to spend big bucks to fly across country to meet the breeder first, then fly back again to pick up a pup IF they are lucky enough to be approved, then fly or drive back home with the pup.  D. Have to have strangers walk through their home and dig into their personal life in order to ascertain whether they are good enough to own a pup. There are more examples of course, but that’s just the ones that I’ve seen great pet owners refuse to consider going through in order to get a dog.

I know quite a few GD owners whom a rescue or “reputable” breeder wouldn’t have looked twice at, yet they are EXCELLENT homes for their dogs. I myself am one of them! I know that there are many dogs, hell, many PEOPLE who would give anything to have the life my boy has, yet had I asked one of those top breeders for a pup at the time I got Luke…I would have been laughed at, scorned even.

So let’s get real. We live in an age of instant gratification. We want it, we want it now. And really, those who know anything about life have figured out that life IS short…Why should Jane Doe wait four years to get that high bred puppy or not get one at all, because she doesn’t have a high enough fence, or she isn’t rich, or one of the other reasons she might be turned down? Do these breeders really think the person is going to totally give up on the idea of getting a puppy because THEY said the person wasn’t ready? Nope…don’t think so! Jane Doe is going to say to hell with that, I want a pup, I know I can give it a great life, and I’ll get that pup SOMEHOW, somewhere. So Jane goes to Kijiji or the newspaper..and finds a litter of pups.


While Jane has probably read all the horror stories and fights over breeding practices online, she has heard enough from friends who’ve had dogs, or seen it with her own previous dogs, that not all “BYB” dogs are going to be sickly or have temperament issues. Perhaps she even knows of people with those top bred, titled dogs who suffer from everything known to man, and has decided..if it’s a risk no matter which way you turn, and since she doesn’t qualify for a high quality pup, she’ll just have to take her chances with the little family who raises happy, supposedly healthy, friendly Great Danes from their proverbial back yard. Not only is this pup a bit cheaper, she can actually pick out which one she wants instead of paying a ton of money to be told THIS is the pup you can share your life with. So Jane gets her pup. She may or may not end up with an unhealthy dog. She has indeed, perpetuated the cycle of more dogs being bred that shouldn’t be…but in her eyes, she deserves a dog just like the people next door and down the street.

The arguments used against buying from a byb do not mean much to Jane.

So the breeder doesn’t offer a guarantee? The one who does, only offers it for up to two years, when we all know that most genetic issues don’t show up til after than anyways (thus why tests are done after the age of two and the reason we say no dog should be bred before the age of two) Many contracts state that you have to return the dog for a replacement pup. Well hello…who is going to live with, love and bond with a dog for up to two years, find out it’s sick and hand it back over for a NEW pup from the same people who gave them the sick one in the first place? It’s useless. Good in theory, but in reality, not many are going to make use of it…not if they truly love and want their dog through thick and thin, which is what we want from dog owners correct? The only way a contract guarantee means much to most people, is if it includes a full money back policy not including the return of the dog to the breeder. If they do indeed lose the dog, they might want to have that money to go to another breeder with different lines.

Explaining to Jane that by buying this one pup, she is putting money into the hands of the byb, making it possible for more poorly bred pups to be born doesn’t mean much to her either, because she tells herself the pup would have been sold to someone else anyway, or dumped in a shelter, or put down perhaps.

Jane doesn’t particularly care if the breeder wants to be bosom buddies for the next ten years, exchange cards and emails and personal life stories for the remainder of the pups life. As far as she’s concerned, the dog is now do with as she wants..not to be under the thumb of, or answering to someone else.

It’s true…if there was no demand..there would be no supply. Someone who is doing anything for the money is going to stop when the money dries up, and the venture is no longer profitable for them. But it is also true, that as long as we have a shortage of GOOD breeders, and these breeders only have a small supply of pups, whom only go to the best of the best of owners..then there will ALWAYS be a demand for pups. It’s that simple. The reality of human beings is that if we can’t get the best but we still want whatever it is, we will settle for second best. Not many people are going to give up their desire for a dog because someone else tells them to. It’s ludicrous to assume otherwise.


So how do we make it better? Education is the key. But not just of potential new owners, but potential breeders as well. And alienating them by treating them like idiots, like trash, by insulting and ragging on them is NOT going to make that person want to stick around for more “education”. Passionate as we are, we have to learn how to deal with people, the same way we learn how to deal with our dogs, otherwise we do more harm than good in the end. You can’t teach someone to better anything, if you are pushing them away. It’s that simple. We need to quit the bickering and making those who’ve already gotten their dane from whatever source feel like a piece of trash…and start coming up with ways to better the entire dog owner/breeder community. Lobby for stricter breeding laws perhaps. Make it easier for potential breeders to do it the RIGHT way…Get rid of this elitism that is so prevalent in the dog world, and sorry…NO ONE is going to convince me it’s not there, I see it every day just in forums, not to mention real life offline.

This is a hot topic for debate, and the problem lies in the differences each person has in what they consider to be proper breeding practices. No matter how much we fight and bitch and moan the truth of it is that as long as there are people wanting a Great Dane and not being able to get one within a reasonable time frame, without being made to jump through hoops of burning flames in order to get one…the demand for lower classed breeders will always remain.

We need to ask ourselves…is it worth the long term cost, by being so picky in who we allow the privilege to have these dogs, even though we do it out of our love and passion for the breed…Are we not in a way pushing those very people to go and support the very ones we’re trying to stop from breeding? It’s a catch 22, a most difficult situation…and until we can all stop bickering about it, and start coming up with some real solutions instead of insults and innuendos, nothing is going to change. It’s the real world…and sometimes logic outweighs emotion, and vice versa.

My story with Luke is not about me deciding one day, I want a GD pup, I want it now, I got him. I had spent years doing the research, I lurked on all those top breeder’s websites..I even had it narrowed down to the two breeders I would go to when the time was right for me to buy a pup. I didn’t search for Luke. I wasn’t looking to get a pup at that time at all. Had I been looking for a pup, I would definitely have gone the route I had long since decided I would go…with those reputable, top of the line breeders. IF I ever decide later on that I want another dane, which I can almost guarantee will not happen (Luke is my one and only, and no matter how much I love this breed, he can never be replaced) but if I were to do it..I would do it the right way. I’d wait my time…I’d plan it all to the nnth degree.

When I came across my boy’s picture…I knew without a shadow of a doubt, like I’ve known NOTHING before or since, that he was mine. He was THE one…and although I knew the risks, there was nothing to be done about it. He was meant for me and I him and every single thing that has happened since the moment I laid eyes on his picture has proven that, a hundred times over. I should have never been able to get him at the time I did…the stars just aligned in the right place I guess you could say. Miracles occurred in my life for this boy to come home to me. It was never about having a Great was about HIM…which of course I cannot begin to explain and frankly, I don’t owe it to anyone to even try. He is here, he is loved beyond anyone or anything I have in me and frankly when he leaves this earth I pray I go with him because he is not just my dog, he is not a pet…he is more than I even comprehend at times, and to even contemplate a day without him now is like tearing out my heart with my bare hands. And I’m a tough cookie…trust me, nothing affects me if I don’t wish it to..I have the emotional control of a bloody robot…but not with him…Not for Luke. He ruined me lol. Or saved me, depending on how you look at it.

My point is…while it may seem hypocritical of me to try and convince people who are looking for a pup to go the reputable route…I do so because I HAVE heard the horror stories, seen the heartache so many people have suffered because they went with Mr. Jones and his untested dogs. I also see how the sheer amount of badly bred danes is changing the way our breed looks and behaves, and that is not a good thing. We who love this breed must want what is best for them…which means, better health, better longevity, better temperaments, better conformation. Too many GD’s are looking like sad examples of a greyhound mix…or too beefed up like a Neo Mastiff. Too many are scared of their own shadow or showing signs of aggression when it’s not who they are supposed to be. So yes…breeding IS a VERY important topic, one we have to take seriously and together as people who love and appreciate the breed, we MUST find a way to make their futures even brighter.

I pray every night to a God I have had my on and off’s with for years, that he will let Luke and I have many many healthy and happy years together. My biggest fear in this life is to lose him, but even more so, for him to suffer in any possible way. Because I know me, and I know that I am not selfish when it comes to my love for him, so if they day ever comes that he is suffering…it will mean my loss of him…because I will not let him continue to suffer through a life he cannot understand, just so I don’t have to say goodbye. So yes, you can bet your life that his health and wellbeing is of top priority to me. I do everything I can do to assure that he remains healthy. But I know it is a jack in the box type deal…you just never know when that evil looking clown is going to pop up on you. I pray he stays in that damn box for good.

I hope I’ve explained my thoughts clearly enough..I am now tired and in quite a bit of hopefully it makes sense.

One thought on “The Big “Breeder” Debate

  1. You bring up very good points. Although I have not personally purchased a pup from a breeder, I can definitely relate because – strangely enough – you see the same sort of thing in rescue circles. Some home evaluations are so stringent that people are put off, or rejected, and does that stop them from getting a dog? Never. They usually go to the local shelter and adopt a dog, or worse, decide to forget about rescue entirely, and purchase from a pet store – supporting those same puppy mills.

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